The peer-to-peer car service companies Über and Lyft changed the rules of taxi services with their appearance on the market. With market values of over $60 billion for Über and $2.5 billion for Lyft, these two companies have a strong hold on this new market. Insurance regulations and the legal system are still trying to catch up and create a framework that properly regulates this new service. A Las Vegas personal injury attorney knows that it is very unclear what happens when someone is injured or killed in an accident involving an Über or Lyft driver.
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Why Insurance is Different for Über and Lyft
In the days before these ride-sharing services appeared, making an insurance claim against a taxi company was a predictable process. Taxi companies were required to register at the state or local level as businesses, and carry business insurance. Even if a taxi driver did not have a passenger or was off duty when an accident happened, the business insurance would provide coverage.
Both Über and Lyft have corporate insurance for their drivers and cars, but sometimes it applies and sometimes it does not. Both companies have published guidelines for when a driver’s personal coverage applies, and when the corporate policy does. But even their guidelines leave many questions unanswered.
If a driver is not logged on and available in the system, they are treated exactly the same as any other car owner. Their personal insurance must cover all damages or liability, and the corporate insurance policies are not in effect. Once a driver logs on to the system and is available but has not yet accepted a rider, their personal insurance is the main source of insurance protection. During this time, both Über and Lyft have a smaller contingency policy that offers some coverage, but the driver’s private insurance is the main source of coverage.
Once a driver is on the way to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in the car, Über and Lyft’s corporate policies become the main source of coverage. Despite this, both companies try to save as much as possible by making the driver file the claim under their personal insurance. Their corporate policies do add some extra protection to make the overall insurance protection more robust, but there are still many gaps in coverage.
Private Policies are not Enough for Corporate Accidents
Even when a passenger is in the vehicle and there is an accident, Über and Lyft try to force the driver to file the claim on their private insurance. Some states address this problem and require that corporate policies be used, but they are in the minority. The greatest downside to this is that private insurance policies rightfully do not cover business activities. Insurance companies have every right to deny these claims, and they do.
When a claim against a private insurance policy is denied, it forces injured third parties to try to collect from Über and Lyft’s corporate insurance policies. Unfortunately, both companies deny responsibility for their driver’s actions, based on the fact that they are all independent contractors. At this point, it becomes necessary to try to collect damages from the drivers themselves. As any Las Vegas personal injury attorney knows, many individuals do not have the ability to cover the property damages, medical bills, and other costs that add up from an auto accident.
What to do in Case of an Accident
All of the rules and best practices that apply to a regular accident between private parties also apply to accidents with Lyft and Über drivers. Passengers or third parties involved in an accident with an Über or Lyft driver should:
- Document the accident carefully, taking photos and giving statements to law enforcement if possible.
- Never admit liability. Even if a third party driver feels like they might be at fault, they should not admit it. This can be concluded legally at a later date.
- Get all of the insurance information, including the corporate policy for Lyft or Über.
The lack of clarity, when involved in a Lyft or Über accident, will improve. Some insurance companies have decided to craft special policies for peer-to-peer drivers, and these policies provide a clear process for filing a claim.
At the regulatory level, some states now have policies that force Über and Lyft to take the same amount of responsibility for their driver’s actions as any other taxi company would. However, until the laws and insurance companies catch up to the reality of this new business model, the advice of a Las Vegas rideshare accident attorney helps to clarify the legal implications of being involved in an Über or Lyft accident.